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Laura Tsutsui

Laura Tsutsui is a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She first joined the station as a news intern, and now covers local issues for KVPR and produces the weekly program Valley Edition. 

A Fresno native, Laura graduated in the spring of 2017 from California State University, Fresno as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College. She studied journalism, with a focus in multimedia. While attending Fresno State, Tsutsui was an intern for California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon through the Maddy Institute and an intern for Congressman Sam Farr in Washington, D.C. through the Panetta Institute. In 2015 Laura won an Associated Press Television and Radio Association award for her audio documentary, "Netflix and Chill." 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Four of Fresno’s city council seats are up for re-election this year. While these are technically non-partisan races, many city issues are often decided along party lines. The stakes are even higher in one particular district that's currently held by a conservative, and is a district where voters in the last presidential election supported Hillary Clinton. Valley Public Radio’s Laura Tsutsui reports, the candidate who wins this seat could end up deciding the future of city politics.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno has long relied on groundwater to meet its needs, but a new surface water treatment plant is slated to begin operating this summer. While the city faced complications with their last treatment plant, they’re hoping the lessons learned help solve problems before they start.

Fresno’s new Southeast Surface Water Treatment Plant is huge, and built to do one thing: Treat water from the Kings River, and send it out to Fresno residents.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Two California gubernatorial candidates spent the day in the Central Valley, talking to local residents about their priorities.

 

The idea was to show the unique experiences of residents in the Central Valley. Antonio Villaraigosa and Delaine Eastin were the only candidates to attend. They first met constituents in Orosi, and then visited Southwest Fresno.

 

Villaraigosa, former Mayor of Los Angeles, emphasized his record of fighting inequality.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One candidate for a key Fresno City Council race has earned a big endorsement from local law enforcement. District 7 candidate Brian Whelan announced Thursday he has the support of the Fresno Police Officers Association. Damon Kurtz is president of the FPOA.

“We did an interview process, spoke to candidates, and Brian rose to the top,” said Kurtz. He described Whelan as, “overly qualified for the position.”

 

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer also added his endorsement to Whelan’s campaign.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One of the most controversial and influential leaders of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees has announced he won’t be running for reelection.

 

Fresno Unified Board trustee Brooke Ashjian made the announcement outside of the district’s headquarters.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The City of Fresno passed a Parks Master Plan in January. The plan outlines the city’s goals to maintain and improve existing parks, and add more to the system. But over the years, the city’s parks budget has decreased. A new coalition hopes their efforts will put new life into parks, with a tax.

 

State lawmakers announced legislation Tuesday that they say will change the legal standard allowing officers to use deadly force on the job, but one valley sheriff is concerned this will make it harder for officers to do their job safely.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  A group is proposing a sales tax to raise money for Fresno parks. The coalition gathered Wednesday to announce their proposal.

The group, Fresno for Parks, is calling for a 3/8 cent sales tax, which would appear on the November ballot. The measure would generate money for parks, as well as arts and trails. Nikiko Masumoto is a local farmer and artist who helped announce the initiative.

U.S. Census Bureau

It was announced Monday that the 2020 Census would include a question about immigration status, and this has raised concerns with local advocacy groups.

Sam Molina is the California State Director of Mi Familia Vota. Molina says this question would dissuade the immigrant community from participating in the census. He also says the state will lose resources that are allocated by population if that happens.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Clinica Sierra Vista introduced their new CEO and opened a new clinic in north Fresno Wednesday. The Bakersfield-based clinics have historically served rural and low income communities. CEO Brian Harris says that serving those communities remains their goal.

 

“If you look at who's going to the medical emergency rooms in our community, it is the poor and underserved,” says Harris. “They're using that as their primary care home. So we need to open up clinics near the hospitals.”
 

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

Last year California lawmakers passed legislation that limits communication between local law enforcement agencies and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials. Recently, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department made national headlines by attempting to bypass that law by publicly posting the release date of inmates online. It’s a practice that Fresno County has been using for years.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Marches took place around the nation on Saturday to honor the victims of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The march in Fresno drew crowds from around the Central Valley to Fresno High School.

 

Yasmin Mendoza is the twenty-one-year old community college student who led the event. She says the march and their movement isn’t about party politics.

 

“I think that safety is a universal issue that affects everyone no matter your political party,” says Mendoza.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Unified School District students took part in national school walkout events today. Students across the nation participated in memory of the victims of last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and in protest of gun violence. Students at Fresno High School opted for a “lie in,” instead of a walkout.

 

Instead of leaving campus, students left their second period class early to gather in Warrior Park, facing the school’s auditorium.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

California has some of the highest-reaching goals in the nation when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Our state is also where some of the most innovative clean technology is developed and manufactured. One electric bus company is setting up shop in California, and it’s already changing transit in one Central Valley town.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We all know what a port looks like. There’s water and ships stacked high with shipping containers. But those are often in busy areas on the coast: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland. Well, one Central Valley county has decided to get in on the shipping and distribution game. That county is partnering with the Port of Los Angeles to give their region a boost for distributing around the world.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Fresno is California’s largest city without a light rail system. With the city’s sprawling nature and ample parking lots, efforts to bring rapid transit to the area have never taken off. One other reason – light rail is really expensive. Now, Fresno officials hope to bring some of the elements of those commuter trains to the city’s bus system at a much more affordable price tag. It’s a concept that around the world is called bus rapid transit – or light rail on wheels. We looked at the latest addition to Fresno Area Express service by talking to the people who use it.

San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority

The operator of Amtrak service in the Central Valley says they plan to put positive train control in place by the end of this year. This comes a day after the CEO of Amtrak said routes without the safety feature could suspended.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  U.S Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited the World Ag Expo in Tulare on Tuesday. In a town hall meeting, Perdue told a room of farmers and industry leaders that he wants the Trump administration’s rollback of regulations to extend to agriculture.

 

“We’re trying to look at every regulation that may impede your productivity and that’s what we’re gonna talk about today,” said Perdue. “I want to hear from you very candidly.”

 

Valley Public Radio

This winter has been an especially bad one for air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.  With long stretches of high particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), staying informed with accurate info about air quality forecasts and current conditions is important for your health. We took a look at some popular apps for both iOS and Android devices that provide air quality information.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

A few weeks ago we told you how new high-tech, low-cost air quality sensors are helping valley residents monitor air pollution right outside their homes. But the devices aren’t just being used by homeowners, they’re also being adopted by some of the world’s top scientists. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is testing the devices here in the valley, in preparation for investigating pollutants from space.  

 

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